Originally published 9/19/2003 - The American
Heritage Dictionary describes an "Expert" as "a person with a high degree
of skill in or knowledge of a certain subject." Therein lies the quandary;
can any one person really be an expert on Classic Cars?
not argue that Dr. Henry Lee is an expert of forensic medicine or that Steven
Hawkins is an expert physicist - but when it comes to collector cars, to
me, there seems only to be a bunch of guys with varying degrees of "experience" in
a variety of areas. This one rebuilt a motor or two,
this one's good at bodywork, this one good at paint and so on. Now collectively
they may demonstrate 'expert' knowledge - but I don't know of an individual who
can truly claim that title.
car dealer, these folks see, hear, touch, and drive perhaps hundreds of cars
every year - are they experts? I think not, as there sole objective it to
make a purchase to affect a profit - I'll wager there are many cars they
buy and sell that they barely know at all. How about a restorer - are they
experts? Clearly they know a great deal about a car if they've taken it all
apart and reassembled it, but what do they know of cars they haven't restored?
think about the folks that judge cars at Pebble Beach each year - certainly
these people are knowledgeable but it seems they often judge cars that they
have never seen before, no one has! - You know these "one-off' prototypes
that get found in German barns and are
restored at no expense by 'suits' for investment - how can they be experts on
those? - Even the guy who restored it had to 'feel' his way along as he delved
why each of us loves old cars can vary dramatically, what is important to
one may be insignificant to another. It seems inconceivable to me that with
so many makes, models, years, components and conditions, destroyed records,
modifications and subjectivity that any one person can really claim to be
an expert in anything more that one aspect of a car, or at the very most,
perhaps one or two specific models, and even then I have to ask how this
knowledge was gained. Did that individual strip the car, or restore the car,
or both? And how much of the work did they actually do themselves? Did they
totally dismantle the engine themselves or just remove it and send it to
shop? What about the upholstery - did they do it themselves or farm it out. Did
they strip a car that was from California and therefore perhaps have no knowledge
of where they typically
rust when they do as theirs had none? Do you get my point?
disassembled an Austin Cooper 'S', every nut and bolt - and apart from sending
the shell out for final paint, I did everything myself, including the engine
rebuild - does that make me expert on Mini Coopers? I don't think so, am
I knowledgeable about them now - yes, am I experienced with that particular
year/model/car? Certainly, but I wouldn't call myself an expert.
a case recently where a client bought a 1966 corvette; it was purported as
being a 427 4-speed car with matching numbers. Well to cut a long story short,
the deal was done and cash changed hands. Well, over the next two months
our client took the car to three different Corvette "experts", who told him
that the car wasn't correct; they believed it was in fact a 327 4-speed car
that someone had put a 427 into and re-stamped the block. As part of the
pre-purchase inspection the client had done on the vehicle by www.AutomobileInspections.com there
was a very clear photo of the number stamped
on the engine [ see
photo ]. It matched the ID tag, but the experts said it looked "too perfect" to
be factory done and therefore had to be a fake. We'll not to be argumentative,
but who is to say that it wasn't the original block which after having had some
machine work done by a shop was re-stamped with the original number that was
on the block before they shaved it off? Do you see my point and does that REALLY
make this car worth SO much less?, I have enclosed the engine number photo so
you can be the judge - if any of you have ever tried to re-stamp a block you
know you really only get one chance to get it right - so if this IS a fake - whoever
did it may well be an "expert" number-stamper!
In my opinion
there are no "legitimate experts". What there is, are folks who have spent
a lot of time around cars and have become knowledgeable about one or more
aspects of a car i.e.
paint, interior, specifications or history etc. often times this knowledge
is limited to one make, year
and even a particular model.
are going to buy a 1965 GTO and you know of a friend or restorer who has
just got through doing a nut
and bolt restoration on one, I'd say it would be great to bring them along when
you go to look at a 1965 GTO that you are interested in buying- there will likely
be several similarities between their car and the one you are considering buying
and they could likely point out some areas on your prospective car that they
had on theirs - but judge your car on it's own merit.
wish we could do away with the term "expert" when we talk collector cars - and
use instead the word "experienced" or "knowledgeable" these are words I can
live with, because we are all experienced to greater or lesser degree. The
- Skilled as a result of observation, use or practice.
Knowledge - The
state or fact of knowing. Familiarity, awareness or understanding gained
through experience or study. The sum or range of what has been perceived
discovered or learned.
Knowledgeable - Possessing
or showing knowledge.
about this because folks who don't have the knowledge themselves often rely
on others who
present themselves as "experts" to guide them on their purchases. I can't tell
you how many times someone bought a car only to get it home, bring it in front
of the local "expert" who proceeds to tear the car apart, then they get buyer's
remorse and forget what owning a classic is REALLY all about - FUN!
is President and CEO of Buyer Services International LLC.